With so many choices of fertilizers available for your vegetable or flower garden, it’s difficult to know what to use. There are some gardeners who only use manure. But it’s also difficult to know which types of manure to use. Many organic gardeners only use manure from plant-eating animals. There are some points to keep in mind when processing or buying manure.
It is completely safe to use commercially available manures because the manufacturers have already gone through the process of killing the pathogens. If you want to do it yourself, you’ll have to thoroughly research the process. In general, fresh manure cannot be used in the garden. Because it can contain bacteria such as E. coli, fresh manure needs to be aged at least six months to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Along with harmful pathogens, heating the manure will kill weed seeds and of course, neutralize the odor.
FUN PARTY FACT: Manure is beneficial in the garden because it slowly releases nutrients into the soil, improves soil structure and promotes the existence of beneficial insects and worms.
The gold standard of poop in the gardening world is cow manure. It is by far the most used manure in farmer’s crops as well as in the home garden. Chicken manure is also used quite often. Be sure to read the directions carefully because it can burn your plants’ roots.
Bat guano is extremely popular these days. Though a bit pricey, bat guano is long-lasting and contains all of the necessary nutrients, trace minerals and microbes known to be ideal for your garden. But buyer beware, while being good for the garden, use of bat guano can cause instability in the ancient caves where it is mined. In most cases that is in Jamaica. Mining the caves eliminates the base of the food chain and thus many of the unique animals that also inhabit the caves. Be sure to look for eco-friendly harvested guano whenever possible!
One warning: Never use pig, cat or dog manure. You cannot age these types of manure long enough to kill the pathogens in them.
For the “official” scoop on poop, we defer to the United States Department of Agriculture. But you can also call us at Stockslagers and we’d be happy to share our knowledge of all types of manure for your gardens.